Oh Canada! Free Speech Under Attack in the Great White North
It’s hard to believe that a man is facing a $104 million lawsuit for handing out Gospel tracts in a cleverly disguised costume. Yet that’s exactly what is happening in Canada. The target of this massive class action lawsuit? Bill Whatcott, a fervent Christian and a controversial pro-family activist. His crime? Whatcott joined with fellow Christians to infiltrate the 2016 Toronto Gay Pride Parade as a group called “The Gay Zombies Cannabis Consumers Association.” His persecutors should have gone after him for his telling turn as the High Priest of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the 2014 Vancouver Pride Parade. Of course, stifling freedom of speech is a taxing affair even for the fascist gay lobby in Canada.
Oh Canada! The Great White North is turning Great White Fascist State. Speech codes that Americans have confronted on college campuses have become the legal way of life across the entire country. “If you killed someone, normally the civil penalty is $1 million,” Whatcott told me in a phone interview. But apparently passing out Gospel tracts and flyers constituted a much greater offense. The “injured” parties in the lawsuit include every spectator at the 2016 Toronto Gay Pride parade along with Canada’s Liberal Party, currently headed by prime minister Justin Trudeau.
And Whatcott isn’t just subject to a multimillion dollar lawsuit. He’s facing criminal—yes, criminal—prosecution for violating Canada’s hate speech laws. His recent arrest on a national warrant is no joke, and no laughing matter. Two years after his Zombie gag in Toronto, federal officials had him arrested for “inciting hatred.” He also faces prosecution before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal because he called a biological male running for office “a man”. The guy was transgender, claiming to be female in his (or her?!) bid for office.
Whatcott’s terrifying ordeal hasn’t fazed him. In my interviews with him, he talks about the blessed life he has in spite of these immense challenges. Once a sinner, now a saint saved by grace 24-7, Whatcott has been sharing the Gospel and fighting the culture wars for life and family over two decades. Social conservatives like Whatcott have faced unprecedented challenges in Canada. Only recently, as Canadian schools began introducing radical sexual education programs, parents across the country have started fighting back, and social conservatives like Whatcott are leading the way.
Still, Whatcott has become a legal pariah, no longer employed because the aggressive LGBT lobby pressured his employer to dismiss him. Despite these overwhelming challenges, the conservative is not bowing down. He’s lived and survived much worse. Growing up in a broken home, sexually promiscuous and hooked on drugs before his 18th birthday, he ended up in the juvenile court system many times, bouncing from group homes to foster families.
It was in prison, though, that he learned about God’s love for him. An Anglican Evangelical pastor ministered to him: “Despite everything you have done, God still loves you.” Slowly, the life of crime and homelessness wore on him. Whatcott received a Bible, then came to believe in Christ Jesus, and to this day does not hide his faith or cease to thank God for His grace. Breaking free of his drug addiction and getting a firm footing in life, he became a nurse. He never ceased his pro-life and pro-family activism, which stirred up major opposition. He faced suspensions for his pro-life views, then ultimately lost his nursing license. He then worked in the oil fields, obtained a truck license, became a bus driver, and even worked on movie sets.
Whatcott is quite a character, but unafraid to share his powerful, compelling testimony. The tyranny he is enduring should shock and outrage anyone who reads about it, especially in the United States.
His life and well-being are at risk in a country which still belongs to the British Commonwealth. At one time, freedom of speech, religion, and even assembly were well-protected rights in these Commonwealth countries.
What has happened? Unlike in the United States, Canadians do not enjoy constitutionally-protected freedoms, at least as Americans would understand them. Although the Canadian Constitution was enacted in 1867 through the British North America Act, a century later the Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau cunningly undermined those rights by introducing another Charter of Rights and Freedoms as part of Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982. Trudeau included a little-known clause which allows for “reasonable limits” on all liberties, including self-defense and property rights. Who defines those limits? “The judges,” Whatcott told me, “so we basically do not have freedom of speech. Whatever the charter of rights lists for Canadian citizens, all of it has been undone because of the judges in our country.” They define the “reasonable limits,” after all!
This Judicial tyranny has spread full-force like a cancer across Canada and now jeopardizes the free speech of all, including a bus driver who exercises his God-given rights to preach the Gospel, even if in unorthodox ways. True, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of freedom of speech many times, especially this year, but the fact that America’s federal courts carry power to strike down laws should worry us.
Whatcott’s trials are a travesty for anyone who believes in liberty, especially religious liberty and freedom of speech. United States citizens should not rest easy, since such a statist encroachment could end up in this country and jeopardize our rights, too. Now more than ever, we need men and women of conscience to strive to ensure that the rights of all people are protected, especially freedom of speech. The Liberal Party’s rule in Canada has become increasingly unpopular, so much so that conservatives won a majority in the most liberal province of Ontario. At the national level, the Conservative Party under the leadership of Andrew Scheer could introduce a restoration of individual liberties. Until then, Whatcott’s persecution should remind us how precarious our liberties are, even here in the United States, and how vigilant we must be to protect them.
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